Elixir of juice vesicles

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Mmmmm mikans. I first tasted them in Japan in an awesome canned juice by Sapporo with their “juice vesicles” (see writing on can above) which I later learned was pulp, but pulp that still somehow maintained unsmashed juice sacs. This drink was readily available in the many ubiquitous vending machines in Japan. And it was a heavenly elixir, an ambrosia from the gods, well, to my tastebuds at least.

Unshu-mikan means honey citrus and is usually seedless. It is like a mandarin orange but sweeter. Its texture is soft, almost creamy. Its knobby skin peels off super easily because the skin seems already disengaged from the fruit itself. Because of this loose skin, they bruise easily and need to be hand-picked.

In this country unshu-mikan are known as Satsuma from their origin in Satsuma prefecture in Kyushu in southern Japan (where IB spent a year teaching). They have been grown in Louisiana since the 18th century and in Alabama, Florida, and Texas since the late 19th century.

This is the perfect time of year to savor mikans– the winter months when spring seems so far away. Though I have yet to find unshu-mikan juice with its juice vesicles intact here in the United States, I can still savor the fruit itself and dream of Japan.

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Mikans in our kitchen

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Mikans growing outside of Kyoto

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